Page 4013 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 20 September 2011

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intervention unit was to move from Waramanga to Weston and one preschool class was to move from Weston to Waramanga. For half the 2012 enrolment this meant that their campus had changed. And that letter in August was the first time that parents had heard of the changes.

Naturally, a meeting was called by the parents association of Weston preschool to seek an explanation from the principal. At that meeting on 1 September, the principal suggested that the decision had been made based on a finding in the Snapshot of early childhood development national report in 2009. She later confirmed that the decision would not be reversed.

There are a number of very disappointing aspects to this. Firstly, there is the absence of any consultation at least with the parents of the preschool children who would be most immediately affected. The principal admitted that the decision had been taken after discussion with the board and with the preschool teachers. In those discussions and deliberations, did no-one stop to think that perhaps the parents of children who were seeking enrolment for 2012 might like a say or perhaps sufficiently early advice that other choices could be made? Obviously not. Enrolments were sought from parents, presumably in the knowledge that the Arawang preschool would be unable to take half the intended enrolment.

There is also this presumption that preschool parents should not, or need not, give any deep consideration as to whether their child attends preschool. That assumption is confirmed by parents who were at that meeting, who suggest that the principal seemed almost surprised that they were making such a fuss over a preschool program that was not compulsory anyway.

The school principal and board also seemed not to realise that the timing of their decision was extremely poor. Such a decision, if it should be made, should be done in a timely manner, not halfway through an enrolment period. The relatively late announcement leaves parents with little choice if they wish to seek alternative preschools. We now have parents with little or no information as to what other options they have.

I understand that another complication is that days on offer vary between campuses. So, irrespective of what transport arrangements have been made on the incorrect assumption that a child will be attending a particular campus, there is the added complication that for some the days also vary.

I know that over recent weeks many parents have emailed members of the Assembly, including the education minister and the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister, on the ABC’s Chief Minister talkback last Friday, did promise one caller that she would look into it. Parents also met with ministers at Kambah on Saturday morning. Those who were there will know how angry parents are that their opinions and choices have been ignored.

I hope that this petition, signed by 621 very angry and very concerned parents and friends, and collected over just five days, attracts the Chief Minister’s attention and a sensible outcome. These families have been treated very poorly. They should have been consulted. The decisions that have been taken were not taken in a matter of

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